Assange in Court 841


UPDATE I have received scores of requests to republish and/or translate this article. It is absolutely free to use and reproduce and I should be delighted if everybody does; the world should know what is being done to Julian. So far, over 200,000 people have read it on this blogsite alone and it has already been reproduced on myriad other sites, some with much bigger readerships than my own. I have seen translations into German, Spanish and French and at least extracts in Catalan and Turkish. I only ask that you reproduce it complete or, if edits are made, plainly indicate them. Many thanks.

BEGINS

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness.

I had been even more sceptical of those who claimed, as a senior member of his legal team did to me on Sunday night, that they were worried that Julian might not live to the end of the extradition process. I now find myself not only believing it, but haunted by the thought. Everybody in that court yesterday saw that one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes. To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable. Yet the agents of the state, particularly the callous magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, were not just prepared but eager to be a part of this bloodsport. She actually told him that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. The question of why a man who, by the very charges against him, was acknowledged to be highly intelligent and competent, had been reduced by the state to somebody incapable of following court proceedings, gave her not a millisecond of concern.

The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq War logs, the Afghanistan war logs and the State Department cables. The charges are nothing to do with Sweden, nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with the 2016 US election; a simple clarification the mainstream media appears incapable of understanding.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing was case management; to determine the timetable for the extradition proceedings. The key points at issue were that Julian’s defence was requesting more time to prepare their evidence; and arguing that political offences were specifically excluded from the extradition treaty. There should, they argued, therefore be a preliminary hearing to determine whether the extradition treaty applied at all.

The reasons given by Assange’s defence team for more time to prepare were both compelling and startling. They had very limited access to their client in jail and had not been permitted to hand him any documents about the case until one week ago. He had also only just been given limited computer access, and all his relevant records and materials had been seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy by the US Government; he had no access to his own materials for the purpose of preparing his defence.

Furthermore, the defence argued, they were in touch with the Spanish courts about a very important and relevant legal case in Madrid which would provide vital evidence. It showed that the CIA had been directly ordering spying on Julian in the Embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide security there. Crucially this included spying on privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers discussing his defence against these extradition proceedings, which had been in train in the USA since 2010. In any normal process, that fact would in itself be sufficient to have the extradition proceedings dismissed. Incidentally I learnt on Sunday that the Spanish material produced in court, which had been commissioned by the CIA, specifically includes high resolution video coverage of Julian and I discussing various matters.

The evidence to the Spanish court also included a CIA plot to kidnap Assange, which went to the US authorities’ attitude to lawfulness in his case and the treatment he might expect in the United States. Julian’s team explained that the Spanish legal process was happening now and the evidence from it would be extremely important, but it might not be finished and thus the evidence not fully validated and available in time for the current proposed timetable for the Assange extradition hearings.

For the prosecution, James Lewis QC stated that the government strongly opposed any delay being given for the defence to prepare, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offence excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraitser took her cue from Lewis and stated categorically that the date for the extradition hearing, 25 February, could not be changed. She was open to changes in dates for submission of evidence and responses before this, and called a ten minute recess for the prosecution and defence to agree these steps.

What happened next was very instructive. There were five representatives of the US government present (initially three, and two more arrived in the course of the hearing), seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the US representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates.

After the recess the defence team stated they could not, in their professional opinion, adequately prepare if the hearing date were kept to February, but within Baraitser’s instruction to do so they nevertheless outlined a proposed timetable on delivery of evidence. In responding to this, Lewis’ junior counsel scurried to the back of the court to consult the Americans again while Lewis actually told the judge he was “taking instructions from those behind”. It is important to note that as he said this, it was not the UK Attorney-General’s office who were being consulted but the US Embassy. Lewis received his American instructions and agreed that the defence might have two months to prepare their evidence (they had said they needed an absolute minimum of three) but the February hearing date may not be moved. Baraitser gave a ruling agreeing everything Lewis had said.

At this stage it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The US government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defence. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defence ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm.

The extradition is plainly being rushed through in accordance with a Washington dictated timetable. Apart from a desire to pre-empt the Spanish court providing evidence on CIA activity in sabotaging the defence, what makes the February date so important to the USA? I would welcome any thoughts.

Baraitser dismissed the defence’s request for a separate prior hearing to consider whether the extradition treaty applied at all, without bothering to give any reason why (possibly she had not properly memorised what Lewis had been instructing her to agree with). Yet this is Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty 2007 in full:

On the face of it, what Assange is accused of is the very definition of a political offence – if this is not, then what is? It is not covered by any of the exceptions from that listed. There is every reason to consider whether this charge is excluded by the extradition treaty, and to do so before the long and very costly process of considering all the evidence should the treaty apply. But Baraitser simply dismissed the argument out of hand.

Just in case anybody was left in any doubt as to what was happening here, Lewis then stood up and suggested that the defence should not be allowed to waste the court’s time with a lot of arguments. All arguments for the substantive hearing should be given in writing in advance and a “guillotine should be applied” (his exact words) to arguments and witnesses in court, perhaps of five hours for the defence. The defence had suggested they would need more than the scheduled five days to present their case. Lewis countered that the entire hearing should be over in two days. Baraitser said this was not procedurally the correct moment to agree this but she will consider it once she had received the evidence bundles.

(SPOILER: Baraitser is going to do as Lewis instructs and cut the substantive hearing short).

Baraitser then capped it all by saying the February hearing will be held, not at the comparatively open and accessible Westminster Magistrates Court where we were, but at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, the grim high security facility used for preliminary legal processing of terrorists, attached to the maximum security prison where Assange is being held. There are only six seats for the public in even the largest court at Belmarsh, and the object is plainly to evade public scrutiny and make sure that Baraitser is not exposed in public again to a genuine account of her proceedings, like this one you are reading. I will probably be unable to get in to the substantive hearing at Belmarsh.

Plainly the authorities were disconcerted by the hundreds of good people who had turned up to support Julian. They hope that far fewer will get to the much less accessible Belmarsh. I am fairly certain (and recall I had a long career as a diplomat) that the two extra American government officials who arrived halfway through proceedings were armed security personnel, brought in because of alarm at the number of protestors around a hearing in which were present senior US officials. The move to Belmarsh may be an American initiative.

Assange’s defence team objected strenuously to the move to Belmarsh, in particular on the grounds that there are no conference rooms available there to consult their client and they have very inadequate access to him in the jail. Baraitser dismissed their objection offhand and with a very definite smirk.

Finally, Baraitser turned to Julian and ordered him to stand, and asked him if he had understood the proceedings. He replied in the negative, said that he could not think, and gave every appearance of disorientation. Then he seemed to find an inner strength, drew himself up a little, and said:

I do not understand how this process is equitable. This superpower had 10 years to prepare for this case and I can’t even access my writings. It is very difficult, where I am, to do anything. These people have unlimited resources.

The effort then seemed to become too much, his voice dropped and he became increasingly confused and incoherent. He spoke of whistleblowers and publishers being labeled enemies of the people, then spoke about his children’s DNA being stolen and of being spied on in his meetings with his psychologist. I am not suggesting at all that Julian was wrong about these points, but he could not properly frame nor articulate them. He was plainly not himself, very ill and it was just horribly painful to watch. Baraitser showed neither sympathy nor the least concern. She tartly observed that if he could not understand what had happened, his lawyers could explain it to him, and she swept out of court.

The whole experience was profoundly upsetting. It was very plain that there was no genuine process of legal consideration happening here. What we had was a naked demonstration of the power of the state, and a naked dictation of proceedings by the Americans. Julian was in a box behind bulletproof glass, and I and the thirty odd other members of the public who had squeezed in were in a different box behind more bulletproof glass. I do not know if he could see me or his other friends in the court, or if he was capable of recognising anybody. He gave no indication that he did.

In Belmarsh he is kept in complete isolation for 23 hours a day. He is permitted 45 minutes exercise. If he has to be moved, they clear the corridors before he walks down them and they lock all cell doors to ensure he has no contact with any other prisoner outside the short and strictly supervised exercise period. There is no possible justification for this inhuman regime, used on major terrorists, being imposed on a publisher who is a remand prisoner.

I have been both cataloguing and protesting for years the increasingly authoritarian powers of the UK state, but that the most gross abuse could be so open and undisguised is still a shock. The campaign of demonisation and dehumanisation against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?

——————————————

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841 thoughts on “Assange in Court

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  • Brianfujisan

    Mary asks ..
    “Where are Amal Clooney, Meghan Markle and the others? ”

    it’s a very good Point..But it’s all Fake Compared to Peter Gabriel Doing Amnesty International concert Singing
    ‘ Biko ‘ I am Saddened by Gabriel’s silence..these days.. And Desmond Tutu silence too..But heartened by Roger Waters

    • pete

      RE “Where are… the others”
      It’s a good question, I might add at this point that I have still to receive a reply to my question to Liberty regarding Assange, I assume that they are all still deep in thought about what liberty might mean.

        • pete

          I made the observation that having trawled though the first 20 or so pages of their latest news highlights on their web pages, which seemed to cover a number of months, I could see no mention of the case of Julian Assange. I enquired in general terms what was their attitude regarding his incarceration. I thought my request was polite and would have at least have garnered an acknowledgement. However there was no reply. Perhaps someone else might have better luck.

          • Hatuey

            Thanks. I had a similar (lack of) response from the politicians I asked on Twitter. I can only assume there’s some sort of national security type crap going on in the background that discourages comment.

  • Jane

    I just think that everyone is really afraid. The forces behind these fascist, corporate governments will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of world domination. Anyone can be eliminated, especially people with a high profile, like Amal Clooney, Peter Gabriel, Tutu. In fact, it is pretty much done and dusted … pessimistic viewpoint? You bet! We don’t realise really much we’ve lost, yet … and the worst is yet to come. Peaceful protests do nothing.
    I fear that Assange’s fate is sealed. He is one of the bravest men alive today. He, like the Kennedy brothers, Luther King, Malcolm X, could not be allowed to live. As soon as you threaten the machine on the scale Wikileaks has; expose the lies, the murders, etc to the populace, your life is pretty much over. Snowden survived by gaining asylum in Russia. Chelsea Manning, of course, ended up back in prison for contempt of court. She wouldn’t co-operate with a Grand Jury inquiry into Wikileaks.
    The more the corporate state reveals of itself the more I see that X-Files was one of the most prophetic series on television for its time. The rigged trial of Fox Mulder for the murder of a “super-soldier” who actually couldn’t be killed and wasn’t dead, had an outcome that was predetermined. He, like Assange, had to be silenced; he was found guilty and sentenced to death of course, by a bench of judges who had the same attitude demonstrated by the judge in Assange’s show-trial, the right dishonorable Baraitser. How do these people live with themselves? Fear and money … they are owned.
    Fortunately for Mulder, he had an eleventh-hour rescue. The hero got to fight another day … an outcome I guess we won’t see for Julian, unless someone in a high place intervenes on his behalf.
    In Australia “Extinction Rebellion” has given up on peaceful protest and started actually getting attention by disruption; gluing their hands to the road; being dropped off in the middle of busy city streets chained to a humungous cement-filled drum. The result? More laws rushed through various state parliaments with threats of large prison time and fines.
    A Queensland Labor government extinguishes native title so a corrupt Indian corporation can mine more coal … no consultation with the traditional owners … more pollution, more money in the coal billionaires’ pockets.
    So, the deniers of climate change may win in the end. The rich and powerful, having polluted the world to ashes, will survive in their mountain bunkers and the Tesla boss will go live on Mars!
    I’m personally hoping for rebirth on a pristine planet in the Andromeda galaxy next time around.

    • Hatuey

      “I’m personally hoping for rebirth on a pristine planet in the Andromeda galaxy next time around.”

      We’d just screw it up all over again.

      As for your central point, that we are all scared, it’s tempting to agree but they are too; that’s why they monitor us so closely. They know that power lies with the majority and that a lot of people are really pissed off with the system as a whole right now.

      Capitalism has a lot going for it, but it doesn’t work. The truth is capitalism collapsed and died in 2008. It does that every now and then and when it happens it usually leads to big trouble. When capitalism is ticking along nicely it destroys the planet and leaves half the world starving.

      I can see why they’re scared. And I can see why they want us scared as individuals — the most efficient way of controlling a large group of people is to convince them as individuals that you’ll kick the living daylights out of anyone that doesn’t comply. Bullies in school playgrounds understand this and it’s why they like to set an example every now and then.

      But in a funny way, for all that it appears brutal and grim, I think there’s s lot more freedom in the world today than there ever has been. That’s a big discussion, for some other day, but I think the west is losing its relative strength and influence; and a consequence of that is better living conditions for people living in the second and third world.

      • SA

        “Capitalism has a lot going for it, but it doesn’t work. The truth is capitalism collapsed and died in 2008. ”
        If only. Capitalism should have died then but was given a lifeline by the likes of Brown (a Scotsman) by socialising the liabilities but privatising the gains. For many of us we hope that this zombie state of capitalism should soon end but sadly zombies are indestructible and become violent and vicious when threatened.
        The fight of ‘socialism’ versus ‘capitalism has to be translated into the fight of people against money. Unfortunately this message is not coming through because of the innate greed of people.

        • Hatuey

          Capitalism is like the mother in the pyscho film; dead, for sure, but if we dress her and stick her in a chair at the window maybe nobody will notice.

          Capitalism just collapses every now and then. The scale of the 2008 collapse was such that if we were talking about any other system we’d all agree it didn’t work and design something else.

          It’s good at coming up with gadgets and cushion covers, that sort of stuff.

      • giyane.

        Hatuey and S.A.

        As Craig explained a few years ago, he is not free to name and shame the perpetrators of the neocon crimes.
        We are free to describe the comes, in so far as they come to light, but most of the time they do not come to light because they are committed under a cloak of secrecy.

        For the BBC to report that parliament does not trust a prime minister is as far as we are allowed to acknowledge the stench of political corruption. today.

        Capitalism does work if the nuclear and chemical toxic waste can be secretly dumped in the sea, secretly melt the ice-caps and secretly embezzle all the capital and replace it with QE.

        Unfortunately the people who ought to be putting the world right are in bed with the capitalists. Spying bombing killing.
        Saudi Arabia and Israel being allies is a metaphot for every othe I’ll. Imho.

        • Hatuey

          “Saudi Arabia and Israel being allies is a metaphor for every other ill…”

          And yet SA and Israel are acting very rationally. Those two countries more than any other in the region depend on Western involvement for their survival.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Jane October 25, 2019 at 07:42
      ‘…The rich and powerful, having polluted the world to ashes, will survive in their mountain bunkers and the Tesla boss will go live on Mars!..’
      The ‘rich and powerful’ can skulk in their high-tech sewers, to be greeted by a nuclear winter when they eventually peer out. As for the Tesla boss, he will be lucky to survive the 5G roll-out, never mind the Van Allen Belt.
      Unless, of course, he goes through it in a ‘humongous cement-filled barrel’ with ten feet thick lead shielding, and lives in it on Mars.
      I’ll take my chances, and settle for heaven when my time comes! (Crossed fingers!).

    • Mez

      Just to reiterate your main points Jane… Manning followed domestic/military law and look where that got her. Assange followed international law and, for a short while faired a little better than Manning but is still screwed anyway. Snowden – by the very nature of his expose – already knew domestic/international and military law wasn’t going to act in the best interest of the public and got the hell out of Dodge as soon as humanly possible. I’m sure there’s a message in there somewhere… but it isn’t the same one we teach our children to prepare them for adulthood is it?

      • Freeflight

        [ MOD: Caught in spam-filter, timestamp updated ]

        God, that article text, in context to the Assange case is so cynical:

        “It’s hard to judge as the case is secret, including details on what data he allegedly sought, who for and how.”

        Yet somehow we have a video of this dude in court, making his case publicly to the whole world to see, while all we get from Assange is some paparazzi shots from his transit and people having to lipread what he was trying to say.

  • Greg Park

    Great reportage on a deeply sordid affair. One from which MSM is uniformly averting its eyes.

    I see Gary Younge has been wheeled out in the wake of Peter Oborne’s attack on MSM obsequience to pretend his own paper deplores such journalistic “shortcomings.”

    “With attacks on journalists on the rise, when the profession finds itself in the crosshairs of authoritarians, it is important to defend the media and those who work in it from the despot and the populist. Being honest about our shortcomings is central to that defence. In a period of rampant inequality, entrenched division and diminishing trust, we are most effective when we challenge the powerful, not when we embed ourselves among them.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/25/deference-powerful-media

    Clearly won’t be long now before Gary and co finally get round to condemning the state’s treatment of Julian Assange, the Guardian’s relentless AS smear campaign, etc, etc.

    • Forthestate

      I tried three times to post a comment, for the first time in the Guardian for well over a year, drawing attention, very politely, to Assange, and asking our Gary what help a journalist of Assange’s stature might expect from his colleagues in the light of the very quote you post. After two attempts were simply removed I was pre-moderated, which at least gave me the opportunity to expand on my impression of them without restraint. I then deleted my account, which I should have done a long time ago, obsolete though it was.

      What a fucking shower.

      • nevermind

        Well done fourthestate, and welcome to the club of realists. The Grauniad has nothing to offer but establishment status quo excretions. Give me the off Guardian and Craig Murray and the canary anytime.

      • Jim C

        Yup, question any of the dominant narratives on The Graun and your comment will be memory-holed.

        For the good of the community, natch.

      • Hatuey

        I’ve seen a few people type similar stuff about the guardian. I’m quite surprised to see that people are surprised. I have a theory that the paper was bought by the government in a secret deal.

          • giyane.

            I’m amazed anyone here has ever had a comment survive in the Guardian. Every thought follicle has been lazered and make-up applied.

        • Mr Shigemitsu

          The Guardian is worth a quick scan in the morning to see whether there has been an earthquake or volcano somewhere, if a prominent sporting team or individual has beaten their opponent, or to discover that a famous person has died.
          Otherwise, it’s no more than a never-ending stream of the worthless opinion of a tightly knit cohort of over-privileged Oxbridge graduates, batshit-crazy virtue signallers, and the purveyors of blatant propaganda from the security services.
          (These three groups are not mutually exclusive.)
          The one bit of evidence that this putrid and decaying organ has not been out bought by the state, can be found at the foot of every article, where, whining like a bothersome street corner mendicant, it constantly begs for money so that it can remain “free”.
          The Graun likes to promote this absence of a pay-wall as a gift to their readers, but as everyone on the internet should know, if the service is free, then you are the product. By keeping readership free, the maximum reach is maintained, the more the establishment brainwashing of the readership of sad dupes who smugly consider themselves as “progressive” can take place.
          They’ll never impose a paywall, for the same reason that the BBC will never get sold off – they’re the political wing of the MoD.

        • Denton Scratch

          “Bought” – I suppose that’s possible since it is now owned by a private company. But TBH I don’t find that convincing. I don’t have any better explanation though. The paper changed fairly dramatically (and quickly) after the GCHQ basement computer-smashing craziness, and the subsequent replacement of Rusbridger with Viner.

          I’m not aware of any explanation from Rusbridger of the circumstances of his resignation both as editor and a a board-member. That’s despite the fact he’s published a book on journalism since those events. Viner’s credentials as an editor are a bit holey – “women”, “features”, “weekend supplement”. No crime, no warzones, no penetrating political analysis.

      • Mez

        Don’t take it personally. Guardian threw Julian under a bus as soon as they learned he could be prosecuted because they knew, as the end publishers of wikileaks material, they could be prosecuted too. Which led to a libel case being fought in the courts after they turned on Wikileaks and sullied its reputation. Nobody’s talked about it much but that’s why your questions were ignored and you were treated like a common troll, rather than a genuinely concerned reader of their publications.

  • Forthestate

    Like others, I’m very depressed by this, but was heartened a little from an unusual source – the Daily Mail. During its coverage of the US extradition charges it was remarkable to see in the comments section that support for Assange far outweighed criticism. That still remains true, as you can see from this article –

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7595931/Wikileaks-founder-Julian-Assange-raises-fist-appears-court.html#comments

    Apologies for the link, and perhaps I’m clutching at straws, but if the Daily Mail’s readers – or most of them – have at least made it clear that they do not support either the UK or the US government over this, then we should be encouraged by the fact that public opinion is actually a big problem for the state, hence the desperation to shut him down. The more noise we make, the harder that will be. This article has been an absolute Godsend. You can see echos of it in some of those comments.

    • Shatnersrug

      I don’t think daily mail readersHip comment much under the DM BTL I think it’s the same people that comment on the guardian, twitter and here

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Shatnersrug October 25, 2019 at 13:28
        But the important thing is they don’t remove the comments.
        A couple of people have said the Guardian doesn’t give a toss for it’s British readership, and panders for it’s Yankee readers. May be true; they certainly don’t allow us to comment, or only once in a blue moon.

  • Loony

    The treatment meted out to Assange is beyond hideous.

    Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Who cares?

    It is arguable that the last best chance Assange has lies in the Spanish courts. This court would be a constituent part of the same judicial system that was recently smeared by one of the most ardent supporters of Assange as being fascist (where that word was used “carefully and correctly”).

    …and you wonder why those who stamp the iron heel of oppression into your faces, and most particularly into the face of Assange, have neither care nor fear.

  • Thomas Power

    Great article, but leaves me enraged, hopping mad and sad.
    Why why why, is this happening, to someone who has not even had his day in a fair and open court

  • Mark Bowring

    It’s clear that what’s happening to Assange is horrific, and is being done by a suposed democracy. But the image is the action’s of a gangsta state.and the lack of outrage by the mainstream medias is truly scary. u could also include opposition politician’s in this the silence is obscene.I hope that JULIAN ASSANGE is released soon.but hope it was NOW. Thanks 4 posting

  • Manuela

    As a German journalist I feel reminded of show trials from the time of Nazism. Don’t close your eyes to injustice and authoritarian behaviour in justice and politics. Never forget: human dignity must be inviolable!

  • jmg

    “Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law . . .

    “The only person who’s abided by the law the entire time this epic tragedy has now lasted has been Julian Assange (and his lawyers, and others who work with him, and former Ecuador president Correa). All the other players, the people who’ve been chasing, torturing and now murdering him have all broken the law consistently, one after the other, and in coordinated fashion. But they have the media on their side, and that’s how the story got turned upside down. Propaganda wins.

    “In 2010, Swedish police invented a rape allegation out of thin air and against the expressed wishes of the alleged victim. . . .

    “This was followed (after 7 years!) by the new Ecuador government that violated any and all international law by rescinding Julian’s asylum, but only after hiring a Spanish “security” company that recorded all of his -and all of his visitors’ – talks and phones etc., including client-lawyer and doctor-patient conversations that we all know are confidential . . .

    “And now he’s in a super high security prison for no apparent reason at all . . . And then Monday in court, a British court, it was a bunch of Americans who openly decided what should happen . . .

    “What Assange practiced when he published “US war files” is called journalism. Which thank god is perfectly legal. Much of what those files reveal is not. What he did when he allegedly “skipped bail” in the UK is called requesting asylum. Also perfectly legal, a basic human right. He never broke a law. . . .

    “If you live in Britain and you think Brexit is a more important issue than Assange, you’re delusional. Nothing is more important to anyone in a society than a government torturing a man to death in broad daylight, a man who moreover has not broken a single law. We don’t even torture mass murderers, terrorists or child rapists to death anymore, at least not at home. But Julian Assange IS treated that way. And whether the UK will be a part of Europe or not, that is the country it has become. A lawless medieval banana republic.”

    Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/assange-only-one-abide-law

  • Crispa

    The Guardian yesterday included an interesting piece, which provides further evidence of US influence on UK affairs following this and Sacoolas.This is the case of a Serious Fraud Office prosecutor involved in a major corruption case, who is appealing to a Tribunal against his dismissal “for gross misconduct, after allegedly swearing at an FBI agent in a London pub”. His dismissal followed complaints about his conduct made by the US justice department – also heavily involved in the case – and it would seem a leading member of the company that was being investigated! Bizarre. The Tribunal hearing is being held in secret. What a surprise.

    • Tom Welsh

      I am sure that no employee of the FBI would ever swear at anyone in public.

      Cheat, lie, frame, deceive, threaten, torture and murder, yes.

      But never swear. The shade of the celebrated transvestite J. Edgar Hoover would not stand for it.

    • giyane.

      Crispa

      There is nothing cheaper than a senior executive in a bank. His job is to deny all knowledge.if he reacts to threats emanating from espionage he still has to point blank lie.
      Ask Boris Johnson

    • N_

      Remind him or her he can nominate someone for the Nobel Peace Prize.

      I am serious. If he gets 100 nominations then that may be mentioned in at least some of the reporting of the next stage in the US state’s effort to kidnap him. It will hurt the cowboys’ public relations. All members of sovereign states’ national assemblies anywhere in the world are accredited as nominators.

  • Tatyana

    Posted in russian social network
    https://pikabu.ru/story/sud_nad_assanzhem_glazami_ochevidtsa_7009678

    Here are some comments *sarcasm alert*:

    “who cares? in general, no one. neither the UN report nor the court at all are of interest to the media, because Putin opposes / encourages Brexit! Only RT covers it, but this is propaganda of the Kremlin.”

    “Assange indicatively condemned so that others do not dare”

    “How is it so? Where does the liberal club look? Where are the indignant posts, broadcasts of Svanidze and other Ganapolskys’? Why is Echo of Moscow silent? Where is Greta? Why so far no one has nailed his scrotum to the pavement opposite the courthouse in protest?”

    “Well, he did not denounce the sins of the USSR and bloody Russia. Guantanamized in the best traditions of democracy.”

    • Brianfujisan

      Well done that Russian Article Tatyana.. Looks to be very detailed.. I believe Craig knows a wee bit of Russian, and John Goss too.

      • Tatyana

        oh, it is not mine, some very good expert translated it. I’ve only posted and keep the discussion. The post reached the “hot” section in 2 hours, I hope people share on their FB and VK and Twitters.

  • Robert Owen

    Superbly written Craig – sound factual exposure. Reports such as this should be circulated around the globe, let alone UK where it will no doubt resonate with many who’ve already had the misfortune to encounter these so called courts of justice; not least including Robin Tilbrook and others concerned with the Brexit related cases. To borrow the increasingly popular sentiment, this particular swamp probably requires draining moreso than those of the civil service and political houses. Time to get the tar and feathers out perhaps. Will forward your report to as many as possible.

  • Olga

    Hi there Mr Murray, thank you so much for this article. My heart goes out to Mr Assange, I have no idea what I could do to help as a err.. an empathetic Russian citizen. I can feel what a big injustice is going on. I know, a word of support is not much, but it’s all i have at the moment.

    • Tatyana

      Ольга, спасибо что заглянули и оставили комментарий! Спасибо за поддержку!
      Здесь русские крайне редки, и я честно говоря была бы очень рада если бы вы заглядывали иногда 🙂 здесь очень интересные дискуссии в комментариях и встречается необычная информация и крайне интересные мнения. А у вас такой прекрасный английский, я была бы очень рада 🙂
      Welcome!

  • Hatuey

    Despite living here, I’d advise that people boycott Britain and British produce. We’d be doing that with other countries who behaved like this.

    Britain is a rogue state and if there’s an argument for boycotting Israel (or anyone) then there’s an argument for boycotting Britain.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Have you lost your mind completely?
      Please think about what you are saying.
      I get most of my eggs, milk, cheese, flour (bake my own bread), vegetables and fruit, plus meat and fish from local, hard working producers – where else would I get them from?

      You sound like Greta Thunberg in disguise.

      • Hatuey

        “where else would I get them from?”

        Let’s pretend I care for a few fleeting seconds and consider the possibility of you finding alternative sources…

        Okay, that works.

  • David

    Assange not in Court

    El Pais reported: “On September 25, Judge José de la Mata sent British authorities an European Investigation Order (EIO) requesting permission to question Assange by videoconference as a witness in the case opened by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional…”
    On behalf of the United Kingdom Central Authority, Rashid Begun rejected the request, claiming that “these types of interviews are only done by the police” in Britain, that the events described by de la Mata were “unclear” and that the Spanish judge may not have jurisdiction to authorise the interview.

    In a reply cited by El Pais, de la Mata rejected these assertions. He reportedly noted previous cases, in which the British authority had accepted similar requests, and said that the only obstacle would be if the interviewee was accused of a crime. He reminded the British, however, that “in this case, Julian Assange is a witness, not an accused party.”

    De la Mata wrote: “The Spanish judicial system has jurisdiction and is able to hear cases of crimes committed by Spanish citizens outside of the country as long as the event is a crime in the place where it was committed, the victim or the public prosecutor present a criminal complaint, and the suspect has not been sentenced or acquitted in another country.”

    EIO’s are granted on a daily basis between European Union member states. The British decision to reject the Spanish request is clearly a political one.

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/26/span-o26.html

    • Tom Welsh

      ‘On behalf of the United Kingdom Central Authority, Rashid Begun rejected the request, claiming that “these types of interviews are only done by the police” in Britain, that the events described by de la Mata were “unclear” and that the Spanish judge may not have jurisdiction to authorise the interview’.

      In face of such obstructionism, the Spanish authorities’ course is clear. They should find someone to accuse Julian of rape – and the British courts would have no choice bu to t extradite him promptly. (As he can no longer reach political asylum).

  • Alan Dow

    Given the recent track record of UK authorities, can we be confident that the right to appeal will be respected? Will we wake up to the news that due to some “administrative error”, the US had taken charge of Julian Assange and removed him from the UK, beyond the jurisdiction of any court of appeal?

    Is there a legal instrument which could compel the court to decide whether the UK/US Extradition Treaty applies? Writ of mandamus?

    A writ of mandamus is a court order issued by a judge at a petitioner’s request compelling someone to execute a duty he is legally obligated to complete. It can also be issued when the authority of a higher court is required to order a lower court or government agency to complete a duty to uphold the law.

  • Mary

    Roger Waters speaks to the estimable Afshin Rattansi.. You won’t find Roger on the BBC ‘News’ Channel or on Sky News.

    Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters: The US and UK are trying to KILL Julian Assange! (E808)
    26 Oct, 2019 09:10 / Updated 3 hours ago

    ‘On this episode of Going Underground, legendary former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters discusses WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s latest extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court and why it makes him ashamed to be English, why he believes the UK and US are attempting to kill Julian, why the extradition case shouldn’t even be happening and is a mockery of British justice,…’

    https://www.rt.com/shows/going-underground/471860-roger-waters-julian-assange/ Video

    Or on Soundcloud
    https://soundcloud.com/rttv/going-underground-roger-waters-the-us-and-uk-are-trying-to-kill-julian-assange

  • Doghouse

    In my opinion – and I’m entitled to one, there is something dreadfully wrong going on here beyond this apparent modern day crucifixion. A monumental deception of some order difficult to fathom.

    I do not feel that the self imposed silence and seeming lack of representation in certain areas by his lawyers is at all normal, even under the guise of a ‘plan’, however cunning that might be. We know: –

    1. He is subject to torture as recognised by the UN.
    2. He is recognised as a political prisoner by the UN.
    3. On May 6 Baltazar Garzon a Spanish Judge adn human rights specialist in international law involved in the proceedings against Pinochet stated the actions of revoking Assange’s diplomatic status were in contravention of the Geneva convention 1951 and Caracas 1954…..

    http://theprisma.co.uk/2019/05/06/baltasar-garzon-on-assange-this-case-involves-an-attack-against-the-right-of-freedom-of-the-press-around-the-world/

    3. Since his removal from that embassy and into custody of the authorities his health has deteriorated to such an alarming degree that he is incoherent, unable to think, massive weight loss, apparently weak and medicated and according to his lawyers and Craig, may not survive the extradition proceedings.
    4. Flagrant bias allegedly appears to have been exhibited in proceedings by both Arbuthnot and Baraitser and in the case of the former, considerable conflict of interest can additionally be argued.
    5. He is not enjoying normal remand prisoner privileges or lawyerly access.

    The above in themselves warrant a massive public outcry by his lawyers on his behalf, the fact a man charged with nothing in this country is rapidly dying in custody under the above circumstances is more than adequate cause. Nor are his Doughty Street Counsel without such contact and influence, yet we find nothing of the sort, instead:

    1. On being sentenced to unprecedented incarceration for bail condition breach, his appeal against such is dropped.
    2. A written letter of apology purportedly from him is presented to Court essentially apologising for seeking political asylum ffs. (remember, he cannot allegedly think straight his Counsel has a duty to protect him from himself)
    3. Aside from normal video link remand hearing no public application has been made for bail thus opening the door to appeal and higher Court has been made or even to have his remand conditions altered as per law.

    This is not normal, I care not if some person appears on here saying he is a lawyer and sound advice, it is NOT normal at all. They should be kicking up every public stink in the book before the man dies……

    “I apologise unreservedly ……I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy. I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done – which I hoped might lead to a legal resolution being reached between Ecuador and Sweden that would protect me from the worst of my fears.”

    Beware the gatekeepers Julian.

  • sushma lal

    Obviously what is happening to Assange is horrific. However the following questions/issues arise?

    The most important issue raised is that the Extradition Treaty does not cover political prisoners. So how can the British government be hellbent on doing so? Surely this is a clear ground for appeal. Should there not be an action to strike out on the ground that there is no ground for prosecution.

    I am sure Assange’s lawyers are cleverer than me and they would have considered the issue already, so why is there no appeal being pursued orthe charges struck out.

    Furthermore, There is no copy chargesheet on the website so we dont exactly know what the actual charges levied against Assange are?

    I have also seen some photos of Assange in prison being helped by the inmates. If he is not allowed to mix with other inmates then how
    and where those photos would have been taken?

    Finally what is the position of the NUJ vis a vis Assange case.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      A. The route of bail and ongoing appeal(s) should be pursued.
      B. The substantive legal issues on the extradition application will await the actual ‘day in court’ ( i.e. if Assange lasts that long).
      C. The point of not, in point of law, permitting an extradition for political reasons is a very valid line of legal resistance in Assange’s favour. Transparency in a public hearing is vital and would serve well to expose the British Judges and judicial system.

      The point of making Assange a ‘political prisoner’ is to put fear into the minds of any potential whistle blower. We saw this before with the WMDs in Iraq when Katherine Gun leaked the Koza Memorandum from GCHQ. Fear, intimidation, deception, collusion, abuse of power, compromise of judicial processes – ask Machiavelli how it works.

        • Doghouse

          Courtenay – many thanks for your lucid thoughts, read the link with interest. Being a lawyer you will understand that his defence is only as good as that which is presented, and it is this in particular which I am questioning.

          He is entitled to certain things, bail applications, appeals to higher Court against refusal etc. Even denial of his right to unconvicted remand prisoner privileges and which would lead to an improvement in circumstance and health appear to be left unchallenged – and if he dies, yeah, maybe we should have pushed that one.

          Where’s the will? It raises a huge eyebrow.

          As an aside – sad to hear of your personal experiences. I found this statement in your conclusions quite stunning –

          “But, it must be considered that in small colonies, consisting principally of coloured populations, the enforcement in proper cases of committal for contempt of Court for attacks on the Court may be absolutely necessary to preserve in such a community the dignity of and respect for the Court.” Per. Lord Morris.

          And I found it particularly stunning because it was preceded by this –

          “Courts are contented to leave to public opinion attacks or comments derogatory or scandalous to them”

          Wtf? The implication being …. well, not worth repeating, and yes, stunning

        • Doghouse

          And there’s one more question for you Courtenay. Reverse the circumstances, Britain seeking extradition from the US. All the same breaches apply, same conditions, same poor health, non -existent unconvicted privileges etc. He’s desperately ill, brain seemingly addled through whatever cause and you are his Counsel. Are you sitting on your ass and hands because you have a cunning plan ten years in the making, or are you going full on public before he dies – which is it?

          • Courtenay Barnett

            Doghouse,

            I have moved on from my prior experiences ( simply have to maintain same as duly documented). No further threats and/or acts of intimidation experienced.

            I am cautious in my response to the Assange situation. I find it outrageous with regard to the manner he is being treated within Britain, having due regard for the human rights safeguards built into the justice system. Consider asylum seekers or illegal immigrants seeking to stay in the UK. Seems that someone illegally staying in the UK or even a convicted criminal is likely to get better treatment than that which is being meted out to Julian Assange.

            I really don’t know enough about the actual defence approach to ascertain exactly what strategy and approach is being taken. However, much that you have raised and asked – makes me wonder – what exactly is going on?

      • Ian

        Well, the response is likely to be that he is not being extradited for political crimes (of publishing), but of hacking and inciting hacking. There is a reason they drew the charges tightly around that claim, and attempted to get Chelsea Manning to corroborate it, and that is because his other activities, as they have acknowledged make it very difficult to prosecute, as it would mean similar charges for all the media, like the NYT, which already published the information, and are covered more robustly than here by freedom of speech. (If he is going to be extradited, it is a great pity he didn’t take his chances of exiting the Ecuador embassy under the Obama regime, who admitted they looked at it, but thought they couldn’t get him on the publishing charge). Further, the UK has extradited people already on the hacking charge, although not all, especially where it can be shown that the sentence will be out of all proportion to the crime, and the effect on the mental health of the detainee.

  • Whatkins

    I see extradition to the US as inevitable. Very concerning, given past, and present, experience.

    Curious situation in the US, with investigation into several aspects of malfeasance surrounding the 2016 election becoming a criminal one. It has the potential to reach right to the top of the previous administration. Clapper just on CNN saying he was merely “following orders”

    Assange is a key witness in all of this, if not the key witness. How the Trump administration handles it all will be very interesting.

    • Doghouse

      Plenty of things have the potential to reach the top of any administration – Tony Blair should be behind war crimes bars and creepy Bill needs a dry cigar, but they never do reach that point. I see extradition as inevitable and doubt he’ll ever see the light of day again even if acquitted in a loaded canon trial. Cynical for sure, but a modern day crucifixion right here in our midst kinda has that effect…..

  • Derek Pattison

    I don’t think anybody should be surprised at the way the British government toady to the Yanks, it has gone on for years. A lawyer was once quoted as saying that he thought this extradition act had been written by the Americans because it contained so many American spellings.

    I don’t think Arrange should be extradited because what he did was political and by exposing illegal state activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was in the public interest.

    It seems to be easier to extradite British citizens to the U.S. but far more difficult to extradite American citizens to the U.K., even when they kill someone because they are driving on the wrong side of the road and the driver is the wife of a U.S intelligence officer.

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